The big loser in all of that is Corey Lewandowski, the controversial erstwhile campaign manager, who according to CBS has been demoted “to a role that amounts to body man and scheduler.” That’s not quite the final indignity for Lewandowski, but it’s close. He’s been on a roller coaster over the last year: When he was selected to run Trump’s campaign, Lewandowski was little known and had never run anything of the magnitude of a presidential team. But as Trump surged to the fore of the Republican field, Lewandowski's profile rose.
In early March, however, he grabbed and yanked a reporter away from Trump, precipitating weeks of scrutiny and recriminations, and ultimately resulting in Lewandowski’s arrest for battery. As Lewandowski sat in legal limbo, Trump’s campaign started slipping. He lost a couple of contests, and the state-delegate process began to elude him. Last week, a prosecutor in Palm Beach County announced he wouldn’t charge Lewandowski, but by then the damage was done. He had already been de facto demoted, as Manafort and others grabbed more power. Reports of his reduced role emerged as early as April 2.
Manafort, meanwhile, was touting his new role, telling CNN he had a direct line to Trump and didn’t have to go through the campaign manager. “I work directly for the boss,” he said. (As BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins and Christopher Massie put it Monday, Trump is an extremely loyal boss right up until he sacks you.)
If the case for demoting Lewandowski was clear—he is a personal political liability, and he didn't seem to have the answer for Trump’s troubles—the case against is equally clear. Lewandowski has been responsible for hiring many of the people on Trump’s team, who are now upset and owe little loyalty to Manafort, Wiley, or anyone else. On Monday, national field director Stuart Jolly, a Lewandowski loyalist, submitted his resignation rather than begin reporting to Wiley, Politico reported. Jolly, in turn, had hired many lower-level staffers. The Trump campaign has been remarkably leak-proof, likely a result of a small staff with intense loyalty to the boss. But as the team expands, there’s greater acrimony, looser affiliation, and more chances for leaks.
The thing about promoting Manafort is that it’s not yet clear that he’s got better answers than Lewandowski. Since his addition, Trump has been shellacked at state conventions. It’s essential for candidates to get loyal delegates sent to the Republican National Convention, because if—as expected—no candidate wins an outright majority before Cleveland, delegates are freed up to support the candidate of their choice on the second, third, or subsequent ballots, depending on state rules. So far, however, Senator Ted Cruz is cleaning Trump’s clock at state conventions even where Trump easily defeated him, giving Cruz an organizing edge in a floor fight.